Christmas from hell, p.11
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       Christmas from Hell, p.11
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         Part #7 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson

  making it impossible for her to escape his hold and run away before she made this any worse.

  Then again, how could she make this any worse?

  She could tell him how nervous he made her, how every time she saw him she could swear that butterflies were flying around in her stomach, she felt lightheaded, nervous and alive. Now that would make things absolutely perfect, she thought bitterly as she tried uselessly to get out of his arms. He wasn’t letting her go and soon, she stopped fighting him, grabbed onto his jacket and bit her lip, struggling desperately to stop crying.

  “I’m so sorry, Necie,” he said hoarsely, kissing her forehead and making it worse, because she didn’t want his pity, didn’t want him to hold her and touch her like this because he felt bad for her.

  She didn’t want him to see her like this, to think she was really this pathetic woman who couldn’t get out of her own way and needed someone to take care of her, because she was this pathetic woman that no one wanted.

  She just wanted him to see her, to really see her and now, that would never happen.

  Chapter 12

  “I’m fine. You can go,” she said, not quite meeting his gaze.

  As much as he would love to leave, to put some space between them and figure out what the fuck was happening to him, he couldn’t. Not just because his conscience wouldn’t allow him to walk away from her, not when she was clearly so upset about something, but because her house was freezing, her fireplace was empty, and her grandfather wasn’t there to take care of her.

  Well, that and the fact that the electrical wires had been ripped clean from her house and were buried somewhere in the snow. He’d been lucky to get her in here without both of them getting fried on the spot and he didn’t really want to try his luck a second time. So, basically he was stuck with a woman that he couldn’t stand, but couldn’t stomach the idea of leaving.

  He didn’t tell her that he was stuck here, because there was something fragile about her expression that told him that was the wrong thing to say. He didn’t want to see her cry again and he sure as hell didn’t want to be the reason that she cried. When he saw that first tear roll down her face he’d felt like someone had suckered punched him. He hated that feeling. Hated the way that her tears had affected him and he hated that he had no idea why they’d bothered him so much.

  She was the pain in the ass neighbor that he’d been doing everything in his power to avoid for the past year and now, but suddenly the idea of leaving her alone like this didn’t sit well with him. Deciding to focus on one disaster at a time, he forced himself to focus on what needed to be done.

  “Do you have any chopped wood for the fireplace?” he asked, instead of explaining that he couldn’t leave.

  Still avoiding his gaze, she reluctantly shook her head.

  Great.

  “Do you have a generator?” he asked, already guessing that the answer was no.

  “Only for the freezers and refrigerators downstairs,” she mumbled.

  Great, he thought dryly as he headed towards the kitchen to see if any of those generators could be used for the heat. “I’ll be right back.”

  She didn’t say anything else as he headed for the kitchen and he counted himself lucky, because he had absolutely no idea what to say to her.

  *-*-*-*

  “What are you doing?” she had to ask, because it looked as though he was planning on staying here for the long haul and that just couldn’t be possible, mostly because of the before mentioned fact that he couldn’t stand her.

  “It’s barely forty degrees in here now. The temperature will drop to freezing tonight,” he said with a stern expression on his face as he tossed a duffle bag and a rolled up sleeping bag on the living room couch before shifting his attention to the fireplace that hadn’t been used in more than forty years.

  She already knew that the temperature was going to drop since she’d frozen her ass off last night when the temperature had suddenly dropped, but that didn’t really explain why he was here. It was also the reason why she’d decided to call a cab and stay at a hotel until the power was turned back on. She’d just been waiting on the stubborn man to come outside so that she could thank him first before she headed somewhere with crisp sheets, twenty-four hour room service and free HBO.

  “That’s why I planned on heading to a hotel until this whole thing is over,” she informed him, gesturing to the small suitcase that she’d packed and set by the front door hours ago, but the obstinate man wasn’t paying attention to her. He was too busy sticking his head in the fireplace and pointing a flashlight up the chute.

  “The roads are blocked by fallen trees, the lines are ripped from the poles and laying somewhere beneath the snow. There’s no way out of here until they clear the roads and take care of those power lines,” he informed her with a heavy sigh while she stood there, taking in everything he said and realized that she was stuck here.

  “Shit,” he snapped, bringing her attention to one of her many problems.

  Him.

  “What?” she asked, wondering how she was going to get rid of him.

  She’d worry about surviving another night freezing her ass off afterwards.

  “The chute’s been sealed off,” he said, shaking his head in disgust as he turned off the flashlight and moved away from the fireplace.

  “They had to seal it off,” she said absently, trying to figure out the polite way to kick a guy out.

  Was there even one?

  She pondered that for a minute before deciding that there probably wasn’t. If her grandfather had been home she wouldn’t have to worry about this sort of thing. He would just throw Duncan out on his-

  No, he wouldn’t, she realized with a pathetic sigh.

  If it was anyone else besides Duncan Bradford, her grandfather would tell him to get the fuck out of his house, yes, those exact words, and if they didn’t listen the first time then he’d show them the way to the door in a manner that would probably cause them to spend a night in the hospital. Unfortunately for her, her grandfather had figured out pretty early on how she felt about Duncan. She wasn’t sure how he’d figured it out, but he had and ever since then, he’d done his best to get her to, “Grow some balls,” yes, his words, and go for it.

  So, perhaps it was for the best that her grandfather was away right now.

  “We’re going to have to hold up in your room until the power comes back on or they clear the roads so that I can get you out of here,” Duncan said, apparently at some point appointing himself her boss.

  “I’m sorry. What’s this now?” she asked, positive that she’d misheard him, because there really was no way in hell that the guy who’d turned avoiding her into an art form was now volunteering to stay with her not only in her house, but in her room…

  Where there was only one bed.

  Yeah…umm, even though she’d fantasized about how it would feel to have him hold her at night and wake up with him in the morning, the whole glaring thing hadn’t been part of it. There was absolutely no way that she was trapping herself in a small room with a man that couldn’t stand her and yes, she’d finally accepted it.

  She didn’t have a chance in hell with him.

  To him, she would always be the pain in the ass neighbor who couldn’t do anything right and that definitely didn’t sit well with her. She’d been raised to be independent, levelheaded and above all, to know her worth and she was worth a hell of a lot more than some guy’s pity.

  With that in mind, she finally decided to end this now. She’d made a fool of herself for long enough and it was time to move on. More determined than she’d ever been before, she took a slow breath, faced him and said, “I think it would be for the best if you left.”

  *-*-*-*

  “What are you doing?” Necie asked, sounding frustrated and annoyed.

  Not that he could really blame her or really cared.

  “I’m leaving the water running so that the pipes don’t freeze,” he said, inwardly sh
aking his head, because really, she should know this.

  “No,” she said, pausing to take another deep breath and making him bite back a smile, because she really was so damn cute when she was annoyed, “I meant, why are you still here?”

  “Because the power’s out,” he said with a shrug as he walked past her, leaned over, grabbed the thermal sleeping bag he’d brought over and headed towards the double bed.

  “Yes, yes I know that,” she said in that same tone, making him chuckle as he opened up the sleeping bag and spread it over the bed. “That really doesn’t explain why you’re still here…in my room.”

  “Because your room is the smallest room in the house and will be the easiest to stay warm in,” he explained, waiting for her to try and kick him out again.

  He’d of course ignore her like he had the last twenty-three times that she’d asked him to leave and did what needed to be done. When she only stood there, glaring at him, he decided that she was probably either trying to think up a different approach to kicking him out or she’d finally just accepted the fact that he wasn’t going anywhere until the electricity came back on.

  Until then, she had a roommate whether she liked it or not.

  Chapter 13

  “Are you planning on sitting there all night?” the big jerk asked as he shifted beneath the large pile of blankets and sleeping bag, getting more comfortable as she sat there, scowling as she desperately tried to will her body to stop shivering.

  “Yes,” she said through a clenched jaw, not because she was angry, which she was, but because she was so cold that the muscles in her body had begun to lock up a few minutes ago and talking had become a bit of a chore.

  There was a long-suffering sigh and then he was shoving the blankets aside and climbing out of her bed. Before she could ask him what he was doing, not that it was actually a possibility at the moment, he was walking over to her, scooping her up and carrying her back to the bed that she’d refused to share with him.

  When he placed her on the bed and immediately climbed in and wrapped his large, warm body around hers as he pulled the thick pile of blankets over them, she laid there seething. She would have climbed right back out of the bed on principle alone, but unfortunately for her, all of her muscles seemed to have clamped up worse with the sudden warmth that the blankets and Duncan’s heat enveloped her in.

  So, instead she chose to lay there, seething as she scowled at the ceiling, watching the shadows created from the candles that lit the room, shifting along with the flames. She laid there as pain shot through her muscles as her body tried desperately to warm up, telling herself that once she was nice and toasty that she was getting right back out of this bed, returning to her corner where she would seethe and plot all night to get him out of her house.

  “Christ,” he said, tightening his hold around her, “you’re ice cold,” he said, stating the obvious.

  She wanted to roll her eyes. She really did, but that small action seemed to be too much for her to manage right now. So, instead she lay there, bidding her time, waiting for the moment when she could do more than just shiver.

  “Turn onto your side,” he ordered, but of course he didn’t wait for her to comply. Not that she was actually going to let him boss her around, because she wasn’t, but before she could tell him where to shove his orders, he was rolling her onto her side and curling up behind her. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her tightly against him and even though she glared at the bathroom door, she savored the warmth that his large body was providing.

  Dear God, the man was like a furnace, she thought, nearly sighing with pleasure as his body heat seeped into her back, slowly spreading through her body and allowing her muscles to stop contracting painfully. After a while they were just sore and she was so comfortably warm and relaxed that she decided that she would put up with him until morning and then, she was definitely kicking
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